New Tricks: FOUNDATION - Dance - Elaborate
Little J dreams of being an acrobat in a circus when he grows up. With the help of Jacko and B-Boy, he practises circus tricks in the backyard after school. Uncle Mick, a search and rescue officer, comes to school to talk about his work. Little J uses his circus skills to demonstrate a search and rescue procedure.
Elaborate - Present dance that communicates ideas to an audience, including dance used by cultural groups in the community
Theme - CELEBRATIONS & CEREMONIES
After viewing Little J & Big Cuz, Episode 3 ‘New Tricks’, engage students with the following activities to support their understanding about personal and social strengths, dance elements and techniques.
Prepare a safe working environment by uncluttering the area so students can move safely without bumping into each other, and the classroom furniture. Adhere to safe performance guidelines of the school and the education authority.
Explain to students that when playing sport or dancing, participants should use warm-up with stretching routines to protect their bodies from stress and damage. A warm-up and cool-down is an essential part of any movement lesson.
- Explain to students the meaning of the term, choreographer, as a person who arranges the movement within the structure of a dance. Have students pose and respond to questions why a choreographer is important to the performance, and how does the choreographer communicate what they want the dancers to perform.
Divide the class into smaller groups of two to four students. Each student in the group takes a turn at being a choreographer and instructing the other students to perform a simple sequence of three movements of their own design.
Ask students to spend at least 10 minutes discussing the three-movement sequence, so that the performers understand what is required of them and the choreographer understands what the performers can do. It is important that the choreographer creates a sequence, and can demonstrate it, so that the others can follow.
Once all sequences of three movements are learnt, have the group combine them into one sequence and perform it for the class. Discuss, as a class, how the choreographer and the performer need to cooperate and collaborate together. Ask the class to give some feedback as to what worked in the choreography for their own groups.
As a class, watch the following clips:
- Mayi Wunba Aboriginal Dance Group at Laura Festival
- Ask students to identify what animals or actions are depicted by the dancers at each stage in the dance narrative, and why this dance is performed as a ceremonial dance.
- Waihirere Maori Dance Group – Original Maori haka dance
- Ask students what the dance is for and what kind of movements are used to support the purpose of the dance, which is preparing for war.
- Maui Polynesia Luau
- Ask students to identify how the movements of the dancers reflect the sea.
Divide the class into smaller groups of four to six students. The task is for students to design and perform a narrative dance sequence inspired by an Aboriginal Dreaming story or a Torres Strait Islander Bipo Bipo Taim (Before Before Time) story. Students can also use props to enhance the meaning of the story.
Select one of these stories or others of choice.
- Albert, M. & Lofts, P. (2004). How the birds got their colours. Sydney : Scholastic Press.
- How the Clouds Were Made – Dreamtime Story (The First Rain Cloud)
- How the Moon Was Made – An Aboriginal Dreamtime Creation Story
- Where Rainbows Come From – Dreamtime Story (The First Rainbow)
Brainstorm a list of characters and the roles they play in the story. Have students consider each character’s appearance and behaviour, so that the audience understands the type of character it is.
Break the story into three parts: beginning, middle and end. Allocate responsibilities in the group to students for each part in the story. Ask the students to collaborate on what movements are needed to tell their part of the story.
Refer to examples of Aboriginal dances and/or Torres Strait Islander dances to provide stimulus and ideas (not to be copied). Each student in the group should observe how at least one animal is represented in traditional dances. Video clip examples include:
- Australian Aboriginal Crane Dance
- Kangaroo and Emu dance
- Mosquito dance
- Willy Wagtail dance, Sea Eagle and the fish story
**Teachers note: Some movements of Aboriginal dancers and/or Torres Strait Islander dancers can only be performed by certain people (especially when it comes to gender or certain geographic locations or without Elders’ approval). Please consult with local Elders to avoid cultural miscommunication or feelings of disrespect.
Remind students that their movements need to include high and low levels, enclosed and extended shapes, and three movements (repeated in sequence) showing different dynamics (energy).
Give students time to rehearse the sequence, and have a practice run through with the story narrative.
Film the dance sequences. Have students self-evaluate their progress for designing a dance with a purpose.